• Article

#WHOOPEd Digest, Vol. 33

By Allison Isham

#WHOOPEd Digest, Vol. 33

The benefits of “prehabilitation,” why decreasing minutes played may not be the best form of load management, the “praise paradox” with young children, and more…

Athletes are often missing one key piece to recovery: sleep. Here are some foundational thoughts when designing a sleep intervention for athletes.

  • There can be difficulty in getting students to buy into, let alone implement, a sleep regimen when there is so much to accomplish in the daily life of a collegiate athlete.
  • It is important to educated the athlete on sleep, “The content should be sport specific to increase relevance and therefore engagement and interest for athletes.”
  • In order to optimize sleep efficiency, one should highlight advice for good sleep hygiene:
    • Organize the room to optimize sleep: comfortable temperature, dark and quiet.
    • Restrict stimulating activities prior to bed (i.e. no tv or phone close to bed).
    • If a computer or phone is a necessity, dim the light.
  • Most athletes have to travel for competition, remind the athlete time zones can affect their physiology.

The Praise Paradox: Does praise actually raise children’s self-esteem and motivation?

  • We all know that children benefit from praise as they tackle different tasks throughout their development. However, psychological research shows this benefit may “depend on how we phrase our praise.”
  • There is a big difference between praising ability and praising effort. Carol Dweck of Stanford University conducted a study comparing the praise of children who were either praised for their smartness or praised for their effort.
    • The children who were praised for being smart became concerned with how their performance reflected on them, leading them to chose easier problems rather than complicated ones with a risk of failure.
    • The children who were praised for their efforts, in contrast, continued to focus on improving themselves and learning.
  • A take home point from the article: “Every time we praise children, we’re sending them a message about what we value and what we expect.”
  • “Praise, like penicillin, must not be administered haphazardly. There are rules and cautions that govern the handling of potent medicines—rules about timing and dosage, cautions about possible allergic reactions. There are similar regulations about the administration of emotional medicine.”

How much do college athletes rely on their parents for support? Check out this study of over 22,000 students from the NCAA Sports Science Institute.

  • Student athletes lead a highly multifaceted life, balancing classes, practice, competition, friends, and family.
  • It is crucial for them to know they are never alone in battles of mental health.
    • It is important to learn how to identify feelings and find someone comfortable to speak with such as a friend or counselor.
  • Good mental health refers to overall psychological well being. The way a student feels about themselves directs their ability to manage feelings and deal with hard times.
  • It’s absolutely normal for wellness to fluctuate.
  • Strategies to cope with anxiety, depression, etc:
    • Sleep and sleep well: Establish a normal sleep and wake time.
    • Fuel the body well and maintain hydration.
    • Find balance with time management. School and sports are important but so are friends, families, and hobbies.

*Information supported by:

Prehabilitation, or pre hab, a form of strength training, aims to prevent injuries before they actually occur. Strengthen your hips to help with lower back pain, shin splints and knee issues.

  • Many hip, knee and ankle issues stem from a lack of hip strength. For those injury prone, or just looking to improve overall systemic foundation, it could be beneficial to add prehab to your weekly routines.
  • “The body is essentially a system of cranes (muscles) with multiple integrated pulleys (joints/tendons/ligaments) that can slowly lower the weight of the body.”
  • For a squat, mini squat or step down, it is optimal to have mechanics that focus on the alignment of the hip, knee and ankle.
  • A standard gold exercise for weak hips (specifically the gluteus medius) are clam shells.
  • FYI the gluteus medius is a dynamic stabilizer that is commonly used in exercises like walking or jogging. Following some of the exercises, you may find you have been using other muscles to compensate for a lack of gluteus medius.

Did you know 1 in 3 collegiate athletes stay up until 3 am at least once a week?

  • J. Roxanne Prichard, scientific director of the Center for College Sleep at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota states to athletes “sleep is as impactful on your performance as your training, your conditioning, your nutrition and hydration. So how much attention do you pay to those other things and how much attention do you pay to sleep.”
  • “1 in 5 college students pulls an all-nighter at least once per month”
  • “Sleep deprivation even has been used as a form of torture for 600 years. Yet millions of Americans continue to cheat nature building habits around the myth that an hour or two less sleep equates to an additional hour or two of getting stuff done.”
  • Sleep deprivation in the United States sabotages work productivity an estimated $11 billion per year.
  • A 2011 study of the Stanford men’s basketball team had players sleep at least 9 hours a night for 5 weeks. At the end of the study, there was nearly a 14% improvement in shooting 3-pointers and more than an 11% improvement in free-throw shooting.

Many big-name pros are sustaining major injuries lately. Dr. Tim Gabbett suggests “Rather than obsessing over playing minutes, perhaps we should focus more on the quality and quantity of training that is performed in preparation for those minutes.”

  • There are many factors in elite athletics that can affect player health during a season:
    • Travel
    • Interrupted sleep patterns
    • Back-to-back competitions
  • There is no realistic belief that we can prevent injuries, as contact and situations occur no matter how much we have prepared. However, we should steer away from the belief that load management is as simple as “playing less.”
  • “We should focus more on the quality and quantity of training performed in preparation for those minutes.”
  • “Athletes need load in order to withstand load.”
  • Often strains players sustain during competition are rarely mimicked during practice. If one is never prepared to withstand a 90-minute match or 4-quarter game, they are set up to fail due to a high demand of competition. Set up trainings that are match-like.
  • “High loads are associated with lower injury risk so best practice is to build to high chronic loads.”

A 3D foot scanner in every NFL locker room can help each player find the perfect shoe, potentially reducing the risk of injury

  • The NFL and HP have teamed up to help create cleats for NFL players using a 3D scanning system called “FitStation.”
  • Rich Kent, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and a member of the NFL’s Musculoskeletal Committee, aims to help players sustain the damaging forces placed on their feet. “It’s like a seat belt. You want a restraining force, but no ‘hurt you’ force.”- Kent
  • There are two main foot injuries sustained in football. The customizable shoes are meant to help avoid these injuries.
    • Jones Fracture – “when the foot is too big for the bottom of the cleat”
    • Turf toe – “when a player essentially stubs their toe after a quick cut on artificial turf.”
  • The way the FitStation system works is as follows: scans take a few seconds per foot. The athlete’s gait is measured on a pressure plate. This will yield results that “show each foot’s width, length, arch length, height and categorize the gait.”


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